IDG Invests In Premium Video, Programmatic Tech

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DinaRomanIDG, the parent company of global business media properties ranging from PCWorld to CIO, is ramping up on talent and technology for its IDG.tv and IDG TechNetwork divisions. IDG.tv is IDG’s video inventory portal; IDG TechNetwork is a vertical ad network and media exchange that supports IDG’s media properties.

By appointing Dina Roman, Adap.tv’s former head of North American sales as IDG.tv’s EVP and GM, IDG hopes to grow its premium video content business.

IDG is no stranger to video, operating production studios on both coasts, a 13-bureau IDG News Service with 24/7 programming and 15 owned-and-operated properties, all churning out video. Bringing on Roman will further formalize IDG’s video assets in the auction and premium programming environments.

“We initially built out video as part of our ad network and we had a video exchange as well and are transacting large scales of video streams there – a multiple seven figure business,” according to Pete Longo, CEO of the IDG TechNetwork. “But in order to play in the future, you’ve got to play in upfronts, and have a video and programming plan.”

A major initiative underway at IDG.tv, according to Roman, is creating new, premium content and customized sponsorship packages for preexisting IDG categories, such as auto tech and home entertainment. IDG.tv also plans to look across its properties and assess what sort of bundles they can put together for advertisers – such as whether there are holistic, seasonal or tentpole opportunities one often sees with traditional TV assets.

“The opportunity to package [IDG.tv’s properties], weigh in the data and the reach aspects that a network and an exchange can provide, to me, is a trifecta,” Roman said.

IDG.tv will tap IDG TechNetwork to help with this endeavor. The latter developed biddable display inventory capabilities four years ago and one year ago launched private exchange IDGEx in concert with IDG Enterprise. The IDG TechNetwork rolled out a data-management platform dubbed IDG Data Services two years ago and six months ago developed a buy-side tool with the help of The Trade Desk.

Programmatic, according to Longo, is “the fastest-growing portion of our revenue stream.” On the tech end, it was a matter of building “these parallel pieces and then getting them to dance together,” he said.

Although much of its own inventory was initially sold direct, “we’ve been introducing more of our owned and operated inventory into those programmatic environments where we understand advertisers want to buy in multiple channels,” Longo said.

The company has also begun scaling private marketplaces and preferred deals across its network. “They [advertisers] want to do custom programs with us on a direct basis, but they also want access to all the modern tools they can for buying, whether that’s data, RTB, etc.”

Many publishers worry about the cannibalization of O&O inventory between direct and programmatic sales as well as the expected drop in pricing, but the two can coexist if inventory is structured properly, Longo said. As part of IDG’s ongoing push into programmatic, the company brought on several yield analysts and does not separate client-facing teams in its programmatic and direct go-to-market strategy.

“In the US, IDG does business with about 400 different technology advertisers, but as we’ve expanded our programmatic offerings, that number has grown into the thousands and at last count, we had 7,000 advertisers in our auction environment,” Longo added.

In the years to come, and with its ramp-up on video, the publisher will focus on activating premium content across its network for varying degrees of advertiser need. “It’ll be less about the enabling technologies and more about the audiences and the content,” Longo said.

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